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Womens Health Newsl. 1998 Mar;(36):2, 4-5.

Female genital mutilation: strategies for eradication.



Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a term applied to genital cutting that can vary from a nick on the clitoris to total excision of all external genital tissue and closure of the vulva. FGM is practiced in many African countries, in some parts of the Arab peninsula and Persian Gulf, in some groups in Indonesia and Malaysia, and among immigrants in Western countries. The practice has been outlawed in the most European countries and in the US. The US legislation also requires all African countries receiving US aid to begin education programs to eradicate FGM mutilation. The first international recommendations to abolish FGM were made in 1979, and the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) was formed in 1984. The IAC, which gained worldwide support at the 1985 UN Conference for women, has affiliated committees in 26 African countries. The IAC supports its affiliates by offering training, networking opportunities, and resources and by holding a major conference every 3 years. The fourth IAC conference, in 1997 in Dakar, attracted about 90 delegates, including two women from Japan and one from the US. The IAC is working to eradicate all forms of traditionally condoned violence against women and girls, including FGM, child marriage, food taboos, and force feeding. Efforts to reach rural populations rely on distribution of childbirth picture books that explain the biological facts of reproduction and then describe the effects of FGM on women's health. These include immediate complications (including death), long-term complications, pregnancy-associated problems, and psychosexual and psychological problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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